Causativity reduction in Singaporean English
Debra Ziegeler |
International Pragmatics Association Research Center, Antwerp
A common feature of Singaporean English, and found to a lesser extent in British and US English, is the “conventionalised scenario” (Goldberg 1995); i.e. a causative construction in which an intermediate causee is neither expressed nor necessarily recoverable from context and common ground, e.g. You cut your hair, in which the action is normally attributed to another, unexpressed participant. The present study provides written data on the use of conventionalised scenarios in Singapore English and explains their link with competing resultative constructions (e.g. You had/got your hair cut) in terms of an ACTION FOR RESULT grammatical metonymy. In this metonymy, the passival resultative construction is substituted with an active‑voice construction and the causer now stands for both the causer and causee together. Contact features in the Singaporean dialect, relating particularly to local Chinese languages and/or Malay, may influence the distributional extent of conventionalised scenarios, as may the overgeneralisation of the semantic constraints on its usage.
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